Rent in cities like NYC and San Francisco is so expensive that it's pricing people out of the real-estate market, and some of them are turning to houseboats instead

James Kirkikis/ShutterstockHouseboats in Sausalito, California.

Housing costs have become so expensive in some cities that urban-dwellers are living in houseboats instead of apartments.

It’s “a way to live in the heart of cities without breaking the bank,” reported Alyson Krueger for The New York Times. “The relatively low cost of buying a boat and low docking fees can help reduce monthly housing costs, and boat owners say added bonuses include stunning views and vibrant social communities.”

For residents, living on a houseboat evokes a certain kind of lifestyle that can feel like a vacation and bring them close to nature, Krueger said.

The cost of a houseboat can range anywhere from $US1,500 to $US15 million, a houseboat owner told Krueger, and docking costs depend on location. One Chicago-based couple paid $US77,000 for a 42-foot cabin motor yacht, plus $US25,000 on renovations and $US1,300 a month for the slip, including electricity, water, and internet; a New York City resident bought a 41-foot boat for $US10,000, shelling out $US1,400 to rent a slip for half a year, according to Krueger.

Misa Gidding-Chatfield and Mike Kraft previously told Business Insider they decided to live in San Francisco Bay on a 900-square-foot houseboat, which they bought for $US300,000, to save money.

For comparison, consider the average cost of renting a two-bedroom apartment in either of these cities: $US3,400 a month in NYC and $US4,400 a month in San Francisco, according to a 2018 study released by Smart Asset.

But living on the water isn’t always paradise. “Not only do you have to empty the septic tank, you also have relatively little living space,” Krueger wrote. “And bad weather can make you feel like you need to find shelter elsewhere.”

Winter can cause pipes to freeze and storms can cause docks to get slippery; there’s also the issue of commute time and the fact that boats, which suffer from wear and tear, depreciate, she added.

Read more: California real estate is so expensive that families, retirees, and even tech workers are living in cars and vans

City-dwellers are also living in vans, cars, and commuter towns

But houseboats aren’t the only measures city residents are resorting to for cheaper housing.

San Francisco-based Tracey Kaplan considered a houseboat but didn’t want to pay $US1,500 in slip fees. Instead, she cashed out her retirement fund to buy a cargo van for $US53,894, she explained in an article for The Mercury News. She’s spending an additional $US37,000 on renovating it into a home.

Millennials are even moving away from city centres and past the suburbs in search of more affordable housing in the exurbs – savings that, to them, are worth two-hour commutes, Laura Kusisto of The Wall Street Journal reported.

But in some areas, residents are taking more drastic measures than living in a houseboat, transformed van, or commuter town – out west, cars have become “a new form of affordable housing,” Graham Pruss, a researcher and former outreach worker for Seattle’s Road to Housing program, told Amy Pollard of Slate.

According to Pollard, living in cars is common in California cities, like San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, as well as Seattle, where Pruss has met Amazon workers living in vehicles while saving up money to buy a home one day.

Read the full story at the New York Times ยป

Do you like in a houseboat, a van, or any other housing alternative to avoid paying steep rent? Email this reporter at [email protected].

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